Calls, falls and FINA

Something speeecial. Bruce McAvaney was inducted into the Logies Hall of Fame last week in recognition of a magnificent career of broadcasting sport. 287240 Picture: AAP IMAGES

DAVE: Hi boys, the first topic in LTS this week is actually a precursor to a Tyler’s Top-10 that we have coming up, relating to the best sporting commentators. With Sir Nick Faldo announcing he is stepping down as the lead golf analyst at CBS, and Bruce McAvaney being inducted into the Logies Hall of Fame, I want to know how important commentators and their commentary are to their particular sports. Tyler, let’s start with you.


TYLER: I think great commentators make moments as much as the players do. If a player takes exactly the same mark, and one has incredible commentary and one doesn’t, then then the one with the incredible commentary is better. Kane Cornes hurt a few people with his comments about the Jesaulenko mark, that the commentary made it better than what it actually was…but he’s probably right.

My favourite commentator is Dennis Cometti, especially for football, because he was so witty, so quick, and he just loved footy. And in cricket, he’s not the best commentator but I can never get enough of ‘Bumble’ (David Lloyd) he’s always saying something that makes me laugh. What about you Lachie?

LACHLAN: I’ve got two, not footy or cricket, and the first one is Phil Liggett, who does cycling and the Tour de France. I’m not a huge fan of cycling but I’ve spent several nights watching the Tour just absorbed by his commentary…he is the voice of cycling and I think I tune in more for him and his voice than the sport.

The other one is from your vintage Dave, ‘The Accurate One’ Bill Collins, he was the soundtrack of horseracing and just had a beautiful tempo to his voice. “Bonecrusher races into equine immortality” or “Kingston Town can’t win” …those calls will be with us forever. He just understood his sport so well and when he got excited, we knew we should as well.

DAVE: Great call with Phil Liggett Lachie. When you hear his voice, you know what sport is on the telly without even watching it. I’ve got a few. I vividly remember the hushed tones of snooker commentator ‘Whispering’ Ted Lowe, who famously once said, “For those of you watching in black and white, the pink is next to the green.” His voice suited his sport absolutely perfectly. And when I look back to the old days of football (Lachie and Tyler smile, being ageist again) the one that stands out was Lou Richards. He was a great journalist for the ‘The Sun’, always writing about football with humour, but he and Peter Landy were the voices of football on Saturday night after a game. Louie gave many of the players the nicknames they carried through their careers, he was a great man and a Collingwood premiership captain as well in 1953…before I was born boys!

And Martin Tyler, I remember watching FA Cup Finals over the years and being fascinated with his commentary as well. McAvaney, Bill Lawry…you could go on forever!

TYLER: Nothing will ever beat the commentary of Sergio Aguero’s goal, where the commentator just screams “Aguerooooooooo…I swear you’ll never see anything like this ever again…so watch it, drink it in.”

LACHLAN: What Martin Tyler did so well was let you sit there in silence…and just embrace the sights and sounds – he was the master.


DAVE: Alright boys, we could go on about commentators forever, but now we get into the nitty gritty of LTS for this week…the state of local football. In the main league I cover, West Gippsland, there are three clear divides on the ladder and I think there are at least six teams that have little or no hope of winning a premiership in the next three to four years…there’s nowhere to go, nowhere to bottom out and start again. Lachie, you’re a football doctor for the day…run the stethoscope over your leagues and give us the current health check.

LACHLAN: I’ll start with Southern Division One, there’s four teams in contention, Cranbourne, Cheltenham, St Paul’s McKinnon and St Kilda City, who play a lot better when they’ve got Dane Swan and Aaron Edwards there, and then there’s the chasing pack. There’s not much that needs changing there, although Bentleigh and East Malvern are really struggling. But in Division Two, Doveton is undefeated and looks too good for the competition, so if it wins and goes up there’s a natural strengthening of the top flight and balancing out of things.

DAVE: Sorry to interrupt mate, but that divisional set up that allows teams to find their level is critical to the health of local football I think…and there’s not enough of it around the region. Sorry again…go on.

LACHLAN: Well, there’s some issues in Ellinbank, Neerim South has a percentage of 370 and Nilma Darnum is at the bottom with a percentage of 12. Catani is not much better so the EDFL is really lending itself to some massive blowouts at the moment. I know you wrote an article recently Dave about people forgetting self interest and thinking about the bigger picture…well it needs to happen and a divisional set up needs to come in to make things more competitive on a Saturday afternoon, I think.

DAVE: Well in Southern, there’s that ability to find your mark…but what has Nilma Darnum and Catani got to look forward to over the next couple of years? Just constant beatings with nowhere to go. Tyler, how are your leagues shaping up mate?

TYLER: I never thought I’d compare local footy to politics, but in the last year I have noticed that local footy is a huge capitalist society…where the poor get poorer, the rich get richer, the strong get stronger. You have a good team, with good players, then people come to watch, they pay at the gate, the club gets more players, more people come to watch, more players come in…it rolls on and on. When you’re losing, nobody comes, there’s no money for players and you fall further and further behind. As I said…it’s a huge capitalist society. But I don’t know how to fix it. Realistically there are a few teams that have to go to different leagues just for the sake of football, because their dominance is stifling competition, which is what footy is all about. And it seems that the teams that are dominating (Cranbourne, Doveton, Narre Warren, Tooradin-Dalmore) are all the old SEFNL clubs…which is another story in itself. A divisional set up, with teams from all around the region, is the only possible answer, but as you have said Dave, jobs would be at stake at the administration level and that may be a stopping point for progress. Your thoughts Dave?

DAVE: Ahhh boys, this is the one topic that frustrates me more than any other in local football – because even blind Freddy can see something needs to happen…but no-one is prepared to do anything about it. No names here, but I spoke to a representative from AFL Victoria last week who confirmed that the G25 Review – which AFL Victoria funded – which looked at the future of Gippsland footy, is no longer a live document and in fact there is no live ‘review’ document currently guiding the future of football in the region. I find that remarkable, that so much money can be spent on a document that has had little to no impact whatsoever. Kilcunda-Bass and Korumburra-Bena are looking to move from West Gippsland to Ellinbank because they can’t compete with the likes of Tooradin, Phillip Island, Inverloch and Nar Nar Goon…and because there’s nowhere to go in West Gippy to reset and find your watermark. There’s no hope on the horizon and that’s all that footy clubs want.

Every season, in every competition, a team will win the premiership and a team will be at the bottom – that’s a simple fact of footy – but what happens in the next season needs to be looked at. Divisional footy is the only logical solution. Like you said Tyler, start winning games and vibrancy comes back to a club.

The old Casey Cardinia Football League (CCFL) started with 12 clubs in 2005 and the following clubs all left due to not being competitive…Dingley, Devon Meadows, Keysborough, Hampton Park, and finally Tooradin. The CCFL fell apart because of this issue and I hope the current administrators understand this. Those clubs couldn’t compete against Beaconsfield, Berwick, Cranbourne and Narre Warren…and now those four clubs themselves are playing in different leagues as well…it’s just ridiculous.

AFL Victoria needs to grow a pair and take control of this issue for the betterment of the game…because that should be their guiding principle. As my source from AFL Victoria commented.

“That’s our job to look after every key stakeholder and competition, so if they (the leagues) have a strategy and want to explore that, then we have to help and support that. Stakeholder management is key.”

For me, it’s time for actions to start speaking louder than words because serious damage is being done to some clubs at a very rapid rate right now. Either the leagues, or AFL Victoria, need to put self-interest aside and sort this shit out for the betterment of the game.

TYLER: I can sense your passion there Dave.

DAVE: Mate, you reckon I’m frustrated, there’s people at club level a lot more fired up than I am and they just want something to happen. Jumping from league to league is not the long-term answer…there needs to be a widespread approach to this.

TYLER: And just giving people an insight…as a journo, it’s hard to cover these leagues right now. Teams are giving their best but are getting beaten by 100 points every week, even though they’re having a crack. What more can Lachie write about Cranbourne or Doveton’s dominance, or Catani’s struggles, or me with Officer right now…it’s just hard already knowing what’s going to happen each week.

DAVE: I agree mate, it’s very hard for Lachie to draw a positive out of what’s happening at Catani this year…. Even though they’re a great club with great history and everyone is having a crack. I think we all agree that divisional football needs to happen. If anyone is reading this and has the power to pick up the phone and get the ball rolling…please put self interest aside and make it happen!


Look boys, we waffled on a bit about football which probably saved you blokes from the third topic I had scheduled for today…which is FINA’s decision to ban transgender athletes from participating at the elite level of the sport. More than a decade ago the South African runner Caster Semenya caused a stir by dominating female athletics from 400 to 1500 metres. It’s probably been a topic of conversation since then. Any thoughts on FINA’s decision boys?

LACHLAN: Just to clarify Dave, Caster Semenya was born a female but had high testosterone levels, she wasn’t transgender at all.

DAVE: Good point Lachie, but even in that case there was a rule brought in to prevent her from participating in female classification events unless she successfully took medication that would suppress her testosterone levels.

TYLER: It’s a touchy subject but if I’m correct FINA came out and said it is okay to compete if you’ve started to transition before the age of 12.

DAVE: That’s correct.

TYLER: I don’t know if my thoughts are uneducated here, but I thought the introduction of that part of the rule is quite good. If that becomes a blanket ruling across most sports then I think we may be getting closer to having rules that are there for everyone moving forward. Obviously, the ruling won’t please people of a particular age group right now…but I think that part of the rule – about being 12 years of age – is a positive thing for the future.

LACHLAN: It’s a really tricky topic, because in some sports transgender athletes may have a competitive edge, and in other sports they don’t. A New Zealand transgender athlete (Laurel Hubbard) caused a bit of controversy at the Olympics last year by being selected despite some athletes, scientists and campaigners saying she had a biological advantage by going through male puberty. She received a lot of support, and some criticism…and I think there will always be mixed reaction about this topic.

DAVE: And there have been a couple of high-profile examples of females competing against males as well. Fallon Sherrock is a darts professional playing against the men and being highly-competitive and I remember the controversy that Annika Sorenstam caused when she teed it up against the men in the 2003 Colonial. My thoughts are mixed on this. I noticed W-Motorsport has come out and said they disagree with FINA and will welcome transgender athletes with open arms, while rugby league has supported FINA’s decision. Darts, motorsport…do testosterone levels make much a difference in those sports, I’m not sure, but sports like rugby league and swimming there could be some obvious advantages in being physically stronger. This is a classic case of “you can’t please everyone” …but good on FINA for at least having the gumption to investigate thoroughly and come up with a decision.

It’s a touchy subject…and one that I’m sure we won’t be discussing when Lachie takes the reins for next week’s Let’s Talk Sport.

Have a great week in sport boys!